By Sarah Hauer Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Danica Lause plans to bring back production of her ponytail hats to the United States. Helping her in her move is a new 3-D knitting machine. The one-ton machine and software cost more than $80,000 which she raised through a Kickstarter campaign.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
When orders spiked for Danica Lause's hats with holes for ponytails, she moved production overseas. Her Peekaboos Ponytail Hats were knit by hand in Asia, Europe and South America.
But the quality was disappointing. The hat size would vary. Lause said she would discard many of the hats sent to her from manufacturers. What's more, even abroad, paying workers to hand-knit hats was expensive.
Lause and her Germantown-based company, D. Moss LLC, have moved production back to the United States -- right here in Wisconsin.
"U.S. made," she said. "I don't think you can beat it."
The hats won't be hand-knit anymore. But with advanced technology, Lause said, the craftsmanship will remain.
Lause has, on loan, a 3-D knitting machine that she worked with an engineer to program. The machine can knit in the round like a hand-knitter would and finish a hat in about 20 minutes. The one-ton machine and software cost more than $80,000.
Lause said she'll be able to make about 25,000 hats using the machine. With overseas production, she sold close to 10,000 hats. Lause said she could have sold more if production had kept up with demand.
Yes, using the machine means no longer employing those hand-knitters.
"Tech gets a bad rap for automating and eliminating jobs," Lause said. "I'm starting to see in a different and exciting way that it's providing a way for entrepreneurs to provide different jobs and better jobs that wouldn't be available without tech."
She envisions the company making 100,000 units annually five years from now and hiring additional employees.
The company currently employs two people. Lause, a 33-year-old mother of two isn't taking home a paycheck from the business. To raise money to buy the knitting machine and fund production, she launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $82,000.
She sells Peekaboos on the company's website and at other retailers. Lause founded her company to make the hats. The idea for the hat brand was the result of a knitting accident. Lause, then a student at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, knit a hat with a hole in it. Oops. But, she realized, that hole could be useful so she could wear a hat and have her hair in a ponytail. Lause said she sells to customers who, like herself, want high-quality garments. Peekaboos Ponytail Hats have hidden openings for hair and a fleece lining. "I don't want a lot of stuff," she said. "I want a few great things that will last and be responsible with the resources I'm consuming." Sarah Hauer can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitterand Instagram. ___ (c)2017 the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Visit the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel at www.jsonline.com Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.